By Mike Norfield, CEO at TTG

The UK economy has exporting to thank for its recent growth. The advent of technology has allowed more companies to do business anywhere in the world, putting Great Britain on the map as a number one destination for shipping goods to sell abroad. This is especially true for manufacturing, a sector that is increasingly attracting attention from foreign investors according to the UKTI Inward Investment Report.

The government believes exports will play a major role in our country’s growth ambitions. According to the Office for National Statistics, exports increased to a record £304.3 billion in 2013 – up from £300.5 billion in 2012. HSBC’s latest Trade Forecast also predicts UK exports to increase by 5% every year over the next two years, and by the same annual rate between 2016 and 2020.

An increase in exports to key target markets is now high on the government’s economic growth plans. These key markets, according to the Department for Business, Skills and Innovation, include BRIC where exports have increased by 41% between 2010 and 2013. Exports to China saw the fastest growth (52%) between 2010 and 2013, followed by Russia (40%), Brazil (38%) and India (24%).

The latest evidence further supports the expectations that exporting products and services will help create a more balanced economy in the UK. With the government introducing plans to remove the barriers faced by firms that traditionally don’t have the expert resources to expand, businesses are now in a better position than ever to expand their business into new territories.

It’s not without it’s challenges though. Here are a few golden rules for businesses looking to export:

Do your own research

The first step is to find out if there is a market for your product or service. Get to know your competition (because there will be) - understand how they position themselves and the cost of their products/services.

Any business contemplating exporting overseas must be confident in the success of their product or services in their target international markets.

Get professional advice

Like TTG is an expert in providing complete turnkey telecoms solutions, your business is an expert in its own right. If it’s not exporting, then seek knowledge from people that have years of exporting experience. They will tell you things you need to consider like whether you need to sell through dealers or direct to market.

Seek expertise from your local UKTI office, which has experienced staff dedicated to providing trading and investment advice and practical support including introductions to local businesses and markets. Open to Export is also a useful resource for UK businesses to come together to help each grow their business abroad.

Visit your target territory

Online research can only tell you so much. The only way to understand your chosen market first hand is to visit it. Travel overseas and speak to potential customers and partners. What makes them tick? What’s missing? Some of the things you see and hear will surprise you.

Invest in export properly

Don’t just dip your toe in export water; dive in. If you are serious about getting a proper foothold in a country, set up an office there, employ local people who know the culture and how people in that country like to do business. If you invest time and money to begin with, you will reap the rewards.